Commentary

If You Think All Millionaires Are The Same, Think Again

Affluence marketers define their targets in many different ways (for example, by income, wealth, generation, buying habits, gender, or attitudinally). We believe that affluence and wealth are in the eyes of consumers and marketers. This column provides selected insights regarding wealthy American consumers (18 or older) in total and among adults with personal liquid assets of $1 million or more segmented by generation. Based on our survey and on Bureau of the Census statistics, we estimate there are 19 million millionaires as defined by their personal liquid assets.

To provide some context regarding the sizes of the market segments profiled in this column, the following exhibit presents the Bureau of the Census's estimate of the proportion of adults in the four generational segments that constitute the adult population in the United States and our estimates of the generational split of the 19 million adults with personal liquid assets of $1 million or more.

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Generation         

Age Range         

Total Adults 

         Millionaires

Millennials

18 to 34

30%

41%

Gen-Xers

35 to 50

27%

23%

Boomers

51 to 69

30%

31%

Seniors

70 or older

12%

5%

Millionaires with personal liquid assets of $1 million or more differ, as one might expect, from the average American … and differ from each other as well, especially when you look at them across the generations. For a start, this wealthy segment of 19 million Americans reports they have almost 10 times as much saved or invested as the average adult — and they have more than twice the average household income. The Gen Xer millionaires report they hold more personal liquid assets on average than the other generations. However, marketers targeting all the millionaire generations would be wise to realize there are other surprising differences in this world of the wealthy. 

For example, when it comes to entrepreneurship, millionaire Gen Xers are in the forefront, but millionaire Millennials lead the way when it comes to reporting they own a business with gross sales or revenues of $100 million or more. That, in turn, shows up in their ability to provide jobs, with Millennials virtually tied with Gen Xers in the number of employees their businesses employ.

Surprisingly, even millionaire Millennials have money concerns, with almost half of them worried about having enough money for daily living expenses. They are also concerned about their ability to provide protection for their families in case of their deaths. Other top concerns show clear differences among the millionaire generations: Gen Xers rate their own health as their number one issue; Boomers weigh in on having enough money for a comfortable retirement, as well as their family's health; and Millennials are far ahead of others in worrying about inflation, crime, and taking care of their parents. This shows us that Millennial millionaires, often labeled the "me first" generation, do indeed care about others, giving us all hope for the future.

In short, if you are a marketer targeting the affluent, especially millionaires, you need to understand how they differ generationally.

5 comments about "If You Think All Millionaires Are The Same, Think Again".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 5, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

    Well, this is a better definition than most. $100,000/yr does not mean affluent or wealthy. (rent/mortage with RE taxes and school taxes. maintenance, utilities, communication costs, transportation costs, 2-3+ insurance payments- car, life, homeowners, other fiscal taxes, emergency fund, retirement savings, food and medical costs, clothing....note; lower incomes have the save expenses), what's left ? 

  2. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, October 5, 2016 at 4:58 p.m.

    Paula Lynn is right about $100K not being a good definition of affluence or wealth. The author's data, however, looks to be inconsistent with the most recent Federal Reserve Board's Research of Consumer Finances, which is probably the best source for data on the distribution of wealth in the U.S. That report shows that wealth is more concentrated in the older generations, and certainly not among the milennials. Of course "liquid assets" is a term that is hard to pin down accurately. Someone with $1M+ in liquid assets is likely to have a net worth in excess of $3M. 

  3. Jay Waters from noodlebhm, October 14, 2016 at 4:52 p.m.

    I'm sorry, but I'm not buying that 41% of all HHs in the country with $1 million plus in liquid assets are aged 18-34.

    That is a 16 year age range, and, in order to accumulate $1,000,000 in liquid assets by the END of that range (that is 34 years old), one would have to save 24,000/per year with a 10% rate of return and 0% taxes, starting when you turned 18.

    Just not buying it.

  4. Jay Waters from noodlebhm, October 14, 2016 at 5:02 p.m.

    Additionally, according to the Census, out of the 5 million plus businesses in the US, only 22,000 have sales in excess of $100 million, and that 22,000 includes all of the major corporations in the US, including publicly traded corporations.  Exactly how many $100 million in sales, privately held companies are there that are personally owned by millenials?

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 14, 2016 at 7:59 p.m.

    As it happens I was reading some stuff on this subject online and one report, citing Federal Reserve projections---I believe for 2010 or 2012----had these average net worth findings by age:

    Under 35: $74,000
    35-44: $299,000
    45-54:$513,000
    55-64:$844,000
    65-74:$691,000
    75+:$528,000

    Makes one wonder about the assumptions in this article.

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